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The following is an excerpt from an article I found of interest. I’ve had many patients asking “What sugar source is safe to eat?” Most agree that plant-based stevia is the least problematic, but many forms of sweeteners can be a problem, putting an extra workload on the metabolic pathways that affect insulin secretion. Weight gain, prediabetes and a dampening effect on one’s immune system can result.

“Along with plain white refined sugar, most hip coffee shops now offer “raw” sugar. I usually go with raw: The golden crystals and brown paper packets somehow make me think it’s more wholesome than the conventional white stuff, which, as highlighted in a previous Mother Jones investigation, many scientists now believe is far worse for you than the industry would have us think.

Sugar in the Raw, a leading raw sugar brand, suggests on its Frequently Asked Questions page that its product is indeed more wholesome. “White sugar is obtained by refining the sugarcane crystals to remove the molasses (and with that, trace nutrients),” it states. “Some nutritionists believe that the small amount of micronutrients retained in Sugar In The Raw® provides advantages over refined white sugar.” Raw sugar is also more expensive: On Amazon, a four-pound bag of Sugar in the Raw retails for $12.99, versus $3.25 for regular.

So is the raw stuff really more virtuous? Sugar in the Raw could not be reached for comment, but a spokeswoman for the Wholesome Sweeteners brand of raw sugar explained to me that, like refined sugar, raw—technically called Turbinado—sugar comes from sugarcane (refined sugar can also be derived from beets). The main difference between the two is in the boiling of the cane juice: The juice for refined sugar is boiled several times to remove all the molasses, whereas Turbinado sugar is boiled only once.

The residual molasses gives Turbinado sugar “some flavor and texture other than just sweetness,” says Katherine Zeratski, a registered dietitian with Mayo Clinic. But it doesn’t provide any significant nutrition. Refined and raw sugar are “calorically identical,” Zeratski notes. And while Turbinado sugar does contain calcium, iron, and potassium, it contains them in trace amounts.